Talent Management

HR Transformation: People and Process First, Then Technology

line of illustrated people representing
line of illustrated people representing

Britany Sullivan

Britany Sullivan is a Senior Implementation Consultant with Educe. She has a comprehensive understanding of Human Resource Information Systems…

Today’s businesses are facing one of the most competitive talent environments that has ever existed. 

Employees are leaving companies seeking to feel fulfilled by their work and supported by their company to achieve their personal career aspirations. But businesses operate in a constantly changing environment, where agility is the name-of-the-game. They need employees motivated to achieve not only their personal development goals, but the growth goals of the organization. Combine all this with the reality that in many companies, HR has not undergone the digital transformation that could serve to bridge the gap – implementation of robust learning and talent management systems designed to foster personal growth and develop the skills needed to succeed in an agile business environment.  

What remains is a perfect storm for discontent, and a highly disruptive situation for HR departments and the businesses they support. It’s time for companies to get serious about HR transformation, and it starts with a plan that focuses on people and processes first, then addresses the talent technology needed. 

HR Transformation: The People

Successful HR transformation initiatives start by considering a business’ most valuable asset first – its people. It’s imperative that HR leaders understand the shifting demographics of their workforce and move away from a “one size fits all” mentality. With a more diverse, four-generation workforce on the horizon, any transformation initiative should be designed to support all employees without leaving any behind. Younger employees may be more comfortable with cutting-edge tech and tools, especially those built to mimic the hardware and apps they use in their personal lives. More seasoned employees may not be as eager to make a jump into modern technology, but they intimately know the established workflows and processes that have inherently kept the business operating successfully.  

Future-proofing your HR digital transformation starts with: 

  • Understanding how to merge these two unique employee groups and make them feel empowered enough to be vulnerable and open to receiving the information that the other can share.
  • Ensuring your resulting processes and technology can facilitate the up-skilling and reskilling of your employees, support knowledge and special skill transfer across multiple generations, and pivot with changing business and workforce skills requirements.

HR Transformation: The Processes

The next step in creating a plan is to map out the strategy and processes that will help you to achieve the foundation for a successful HR transformation. Ask yourself these three questions to get started: 

  • Why are we driving this initiative, and what value do we expect it to deliver?
    Successful HR transformation cannot be approached willy-nilly. There should be solid, bedrock foundational reasons why already established HR processes and technology should change. For example, would your employee engagement improve if you had the ability to manage learning more efficiently and effectively for your workforce? What impact does employee engagement have on the operations of your business? Can you tie these learning and development outcomes to revenue growth, profitability, or reduced risk? In today’s hypercompetitive business environment, every decision needs to contribute real, tangible value to the business, as well as your employee population. Understand – in concrete terms – the value your HR transformation project will bring to the table.
  • How will we transform?
    This is where you get into the details of the transformation process itself. Define the new HR policies and practices that need to be developed. Consider changes to how HR is structured and any new or additional roles or skillsets you will need to make transformation a reality. Identify how HR will communicate not only the change, but in an ongoing way with the business and employees. 
  • Who do we need to drive this forward?
    Stakeholder involvement and engagement are critical to making HR transformation a reality. Not only must the HR department need to be all in, but initiatives of this kind also require unwavering support from C-suite executives, IT, Finance, line managers, and employees themselves.  

It’s no secret that people do their best work in organizations that support them not just technically (with new tools and fancy apps) but personally and professionally as well. Your HR transformation should identify the processes necessary to enable all employees to achieve their goals as well as the overarching goals of the business. Properly done, HR transformation projects can be huge drivers for positive change companywide! 

HR Transformation: The Technology

It’s easy to become overwhelmed at the idea of totally transforming an HR department from top to bottom. Luckily, that is not necessary! 

Legitimately future-proofed HR transformation is an iterative process, not a one-off project. Start your technology transformation by identifying a manageable initiative that has the potential to produce outsized results. For example, if you need a new LMS and want to prove value, create a phased implementation approach. Select a system that can scale and start with one or two stakeholder groups that are eager for the change. Focus on getting it right, build visibility for the impact it creates, and ensure you can replicate the process. Once you have your full organization onboard, tackle another area, like performance management or onboarding.  

Leaders must remember that small hinges swing big doors. If new technology is not in the cards, optimizing your existing systems can be a catalyst for transformation as well. Tackle technology projects like: 

  • Streamlining your employee intranet to make the tools easier to use and the information more accessible 
  • Introducing chat and collaboration tools that function similarly to tools employees use outside of work 
  • Tapping into the power of digital and on-demand video to build a more accessible knowledge base and training/onboarding platform 

The important thing to remember is that HR transformation is an evolution, not a revolution. Every organization’s journey will be different, but the goal – getting the most from your workforce to support changing business objectives, while supporting employees’ personal ambitions – is the same. By following this structure to create a plan for transformation that prioritizes people and process first, then technology, you will be on your way to a transformed HR organization. 

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